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Thread: Knife too sharp?

  1. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew H View Post
    Not to be offensive, but the reason I believe him is because he breaks down 700 pounds of fish a day at (arguably) the top seafood restaurant in the world. Why do you think a more acute knife will work?
    It will work because it is a sharp knife. Just like the more obtuse angle. I'd draw a diagram, but I am not on the right computer. The point is, using the technique he *prefers*, he doesn't hit the cutting edge with the fish bones--to do the same thing with a more acute edge, you just attack the fish with a more acute angle relative to the bone. A knife that will not cut paper at all will still stick to a BIC pen, it'll just be almost completely perpendicular to it. It's not about what works and what DOESN'T work, it's about what he prefers. I guarantee you he can do his job with a knife with an 8 degree edge, he just doesn't like to.


    I think it's an all too common fallacy to assume that being exceptionally experienced and skilled at something makes you the god of that thing, and your word becomes dogma. He is the guy to talk to about breaking down fish, but not about sharpening--al least not without finding out if he actually has any sharpening credentials. He's a butcher, not an engineer, after all, and people in trade jobs(even the top of trade jobs) often have a "whatever works" approach, and don't need to alter or experiment with a formula that is clearly working for them!

    There are people in Japan and Seattle who don't waste an ounce of fish, and can dispatch tons of fish with effortless finesse--all while using cases of disposable knives. Breaking down fish like a pro is not about knife skills--it's about fish anatomy. If you have a good understanding of what an animal looks like inside and out, you can break it down with anything--my father slaughtered and butchered every animal we raised or shot growing up with a 4" Buck knife, and it never got sharpened.

  2. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Martell View Post
    I wasn't referring to the paper part (per Se) but that you tested between stones to feel the difference.
    I just wanted to say that using the paper test, the sound and/or feel can be misleading. So you might assume that the knife you are testing is not sharp, although it is really sharp but has some bite.

  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by aser View Post
    Bourdain worked Justo into a quickfire challenge for this season's Top Chef all stars. The contestants watched him break down fish, then it was their turn....

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZarDNgM2Bo

    http://eatocracy.cnn.com/2011/02/25/the-fish-butcher/
    Thanks for the link!
    I really am related to Tony Clifton.

  4. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by iceman01 View Post
    I just wanted to say that using the paper test, the sound and/or feel can be misleading. So you might assume that the knife you are testing is not sharp, although it is really sharp but has some bite.
    Well, there are differences between different papers as well, and there is something to be said for technique of cutting paper. But the main reason to do it is a before-and-after of each step to analyze how it cuts.

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by johndoughy View Post
    Well, there are differences between different papers as well, and there is something to be said for technique of cutting paper. But the main reason to do it is a before-and-after of each step to analyze how it cuts.
    Well, I've cut a lot of paper in my life but still can't figure out how to cook it.

  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by evanjohnson View Post
    Well, I've cut a lot of paper in my life but still can't figure out how to cook it.
    Low and slow???
    Spike C
    "The Buddha resides as comfortably in the circuits of a digital computer or the gears of a cycle transmission as he does at the top of a mountain."
    Pirsig

  7. #27
    Senior Member heirkb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Martell View Post
    Pete, tomatoes like a toothy edge - true, but I also suspect that you're creating a multi-faceted bevel (through natural wobble) that when polished to 5k becomes somewhat rounded or convex thus slippery. You may see this work different on different knives that have different steels though, ie - finer grain may result in smoother edges when polished.
    I'm not clear on why a convex bevel caused by a lot of wobbling would lead to slipperiness at the edge. Could someone please explain this to me? I ask because some of my knives have been a bit like this, too.

  8. #28
    Senior Member UglyJoe's Avatar
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    It's all about angle control. Wobble convex edges, but a lower grit stone leaves larger "teeth" in the edge that are big enough to overcome any rounding issues. The higher the grit, the smaller the teeth, and the more precise your edge must be. Otherwise you end up with a round, slippery edge. The same thing happens at the lower grits, but the teeth generated are big enough to overcome the very slight rounding off you might get from wobble.

  9. #29
    Senior Member heirkb's Avatar
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    Thanks, Joe. So the idea is that on a finer stone, wobbling causes you to remove the teeth at the edge, because they are smaller? This just means that I'll have to go slow and try my best to keep the angle steady on the higher grit stones, right?

  10. #30


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    You will wobble on both coarse and fine stones. Because coarse stones leave behind a rough edge the micro-teeth will cut even if you're bevel is rounded over whereas finer stones leave behind a smoothed over rounded edge which simply slides on or over many substances.

    So the higher you go with grit levels the more steady you must be - BUT - this is also true for the coarsest stone (and every one thereafter) you use in the series because this is the foundation and subsequent refining stages that can also round over the bevel. If you're only careful on the polishing stones you will still have a rounded over polished edge.

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